Two last second wins put the Panthers in a spot that had been on the verge of not being at all.
In the Friday night semi-finals with old nemesis Adelson, the boys seemed to have the game in the bag while holding a double-digit lead over the Lions with a little over three minutes left at Chaparral High.
Then things got interesting, downright scary as some said later, as the Lions roared loudly and went on a 12-0 run to take a 45-43 lead with 53 seconds left. But then Adelson faltered and missed two free throws with 36 seconds remaining and the Panthers got the rebound.
To the rescue comes Tabor Maxwell to save the day for PVHS.
The sophomore guard, drilled a 3-pointer from the right corner with 25 seconds left to send the Panthers to a 46-45 victory over the Lions and a spot in the Division IV state tournament this weekend.
After the Panthers had taken the rebound on the missed Adelson free throws, Wade Leavitt pushed the ball toward the basket and found a wide-open Maxwell in the corner.
“I saw Wade was driving, and they collapsed on him,” Maxwell said. “So I did what I do best, just come out to the corner and just shoot. That’s what I do.”
Adelson tried to set for a last shot, but a missed layup bounced out to the middle of the floor where there was a scramble for the loose ball as time expired.
Maxwell and Shawn Wadsworth each had 11 points to lead Pahranagat Valley.
Jacob Elharrar scored 11 points for Adelson (14-7), which rallied to tie the game on a 3-pointer by Rom Izkovich with 1:08 left.
Panther coach Mike Strong said his game plan going in was to handle the constant full court press employed by Adelson “and make them pay for pressuring us and we did by getting the ball up court and scoring layups. The shot chart is pretty cluttered around the basket.”
He said, “There at the end, we were playing not to lose, and in the process we made too many mistakes and didn’t get good looks at the other end. They’re a good ball team and they overtook us, but we were fortunate enough to get that last basket.”
At the foul line PVHS was 7-for-15 (46.6 percent) and Adelson 14-for-23 (60.8 percent).
An even more exciting game was the first round win over Word of Life on Wednesday in Alamo.
Senior Wade Leavitt made a memory that may last the rest of his life: his last shot, in his last varsity game, on his home floor, a left corner baseline jumper with 0.9 seconds that gave PVHS a heart stopping 62-60 win.
Word of Life had tied the game at 60 after going 1-for-2 at the foul line, giving the Panthers the opportunity to call a timeout to set up a play with 8 seconds remaining.
Jacob Roemer scored 15 points to lead the Panthers, who got 13 points from Leavitt and 12 points from Tabor Maxwell.
Word of Life’s Elijah Hoye led all scorers with 21 points. Markeas White added 16 points for the Eagles (5-14), and teammate Caleb Murphy scored 10.
The Eagles stayed as close as they did because of excellent work at the foul line, 23-for-27 (85 percent). PVHS was not bad either on 9-for-11 (81.8 percent).
As they have all season, in the league championship game, Spring Mountain once again displayed their outstanding athleticism. Despite shooting 7-for-27 (25.9 percent) on 3-pointers, Spring Mountain forced 21 turnovers and held the Panthers to just 32.4 percent from the field to run away with a 63-38 win at Spring Valley High to claim its second consecutive title.
Steve Jones, who finished with 21 points and four assists, was the catalyst on defense for the Golden Eagles. He had eight steals and four rebounds.
Shakori Clark finished with 15 points and five rebounds for Spring Mountain, and teammate Maurice Stitt added nine points. The Golden Eagles were 20 of 48 (41.7 percent) from the field.
At the foul line Pahranagat was 11-for-19 (57.8 percent), and Spring Mountain was 15-for-26 (57.7 percent).
Maxwell led Pahranagat Valley (16-7) with nine points and seven rebounds.
At the Orleans Arena today, the Panthers play Northern Division champion Virginia City (27-3), and Spring Mountain (22-4), riding a 14-game win streak, plays defending Division IV state champion Whittell (25-3). The championship game is Saturday at 12:50 p.m.